When not to drink raspberry leaf tea
Raspberry leaf tea is an amazing support in your third trimester but there are a few reasons why you shouldn't drink this tea.
The NHS advises that you shouldn't drink raspberry leaf if any of the below is relevant to you:
- If you are planning a C-section - you don't want any risk of your baby coming early, so it's best to err on the side of caution and not drink raspberry leaf tea
If you are expecting twins - again, you want them to stay put for as long as possible, and any risk that raspberry leaf may induce labour should be avoided
If you have gestational diabetes - don't drink it without talking to your midwife/doctor. Some studies show that raspberry leaf naturally lowers blood sugar levels, but others also show it can impact the efficacy of gestational diabetes medication - only your medical professional can advise if it's ok for you to drink
If you have had a previous C-section. No studies have been done into how raspberry leaf may affect scar tissue on the uterus, so the NHS advises that it's best to avoid.
- If you're at risk of premature labour or have experienced bleeding through your pregnancy - there's no need to influence your uterine muscles at all and risk inducing labour.
- If your previous labour was less than 3 hours from start to finish - raspberry leaf may increase the speed of labour and should be avoided so that you don't have an unexpected birth, even faster.
All the reasons for the recommendations above, link to it's impact on your uterine muscles. Raspberry leaf tea has been used for millennia to help prepare women for labour, and is even drunk to try to induce labour. Modern studies suggest that this is because it contains a compound called fragrine.
This alkaloid is shown in different studies to both make uterine muscles contract, and relax. There isn't enough evidence to draw a strong conclusion on how it works, or why, but it is certain that is does impact uterine tissue.
The largest study done with women (108 women total - so still small), looked into the results of drinking raspberry leaf tea from 32 weeks. It showed that taking raspberry leaf in the build up to labour led to a 16.6% shorter second stage of labour. This is the equivalent of c. 10 minutes less pushing. The same study also showed that a smaller proportion of women experiencing forceps to assist birth - 19.3% vs. 30.4% in the raspberry leaf group. All of which is brilliant!
But it's important to note that this and other studies have only been done with women who have no complications in their pregnancy.
If none of the issues above are relevant to you, raspberry leaf is shown to have no adverse impact on women's pregnancy or labour - as long as you don't drink before 32 weeks of pregnancy. This is the start of your third trimester, and the earliest any medical professional will recommend you start.
We recommend drinking 1 cup a day from 32 weeks, then 2 cups from 33 weeks and 3 cups a day from 34 weeks. You should stop and wait until 37 weeks, if you experience any braxton hicks contractions in reaction to drinking the tea. And it can help you recover from labour too - helping your uterus contract back to it's normal position and size. So do pop some tea bags in your hospital bag!